By now, you have probably heard about the census already and its significance. It is important to be informed because the Census is our opportunity to help our state get representation and funding. April 1, 2020 will be Census day, but once we fill it out, what happens next? What happens after the census is over?
After all the information is collected and recorded, the federal government begins its tasks at distributing funds and allocating the number of representatives each state gets. One of the first things counted is the total population of each state. This count helps begin the process of apportionment. Apportionment is the process through which the 435 representatives are divided among each state.
How does a state gain more representation?
Based on the new total population of each state after the census, the representatives are redistributed. Some states will gain representatives, lose representatives, or remain with the same amount. Each state gets at least one representative and the remaining 385 are divided up accordingly. More people living in one state means more representatives.
There is a process through which census information is released and used. Title 13 of the United States Code outlines the role of the census and the way information should be handled. Title 13 includes time limits on when information may be released. “The resident population totals for each state [must] be delivered to the [Executive Branch] within 9 months of the census date.” Since the census is to be released by April 1st, the information should be received by the Executive Branch by December 31st. The process then starts once the government is back in session. The Executive Branch reports the population counts and the number of representatives each state will receive to the Clerk of the House of representatives. Within 15 days of receiving the updated apportionment information the clerk of the house must contact each governor of the state, and inform them of how many representatives they have been assigned.
What happens if a state gains a seat?
While gaining a representative is a big step for a state because it gives them more representation, it is not a simple process and it is not automatic. When a state gains a house seat there is also redistricting involved. “Redistricting is when state officials redraw the boundaries of congressional and state legislative districts in their states after each census. This accounts for population shifts since the last census.”
There is a Census Redistricting Data Program that is in charge of providing state officials with the population growth and redistricting data collected from the census. This data is to be delivered to state officials within a year, so that they may begin planning. The 2020 census redistricting information should be delivered by April 1st, 2021. Once this information is received the state legislature is in charge of redrawing the district boundaries. Redistricting should resemble the population counts and each district should contain approximately equal populations. In order for redistricting plans to be accepted there must be a simple majority vote. The final decision is made by the governor who can veto the decisions.
How has Georgia’s representation changed?
During the last three censuses, Georgia has gained representatives each time. In 1990, Georgia gained one representative making the established number 11. In 2000 Georgia gained two representatives bringing the number up to 13. In 2010 Georgia gained one representative making the established number 14.
Blake, Aaron. “Redistricting, Explained.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 1 June 2011, www.washingtonpost.com/politics/redistricting-explained/2011/05/27/AGWsFNGH_story.html.
 US Census Bureau. “About the Decennial Census.” The United States Census Bureau, 30 Mar. 2017, www.census.gov/programs-surveys/decennial-census/about.html.
US Census Bureau. “Congressional Apportionment: 2010 Census Briefs.” The United States Census Bureau, Nov. 2011, www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publication/2011/dec/c2010br-08.pdf.
US Census Bureau. “Our Censuses, U.S. Census Bureau Censuses.” The United States Census Bureau, 2 May 2019, www.census.gov/programs-surveys/censuses.html.
 US Census Bureau. “Redistricting Data Program Management.” The United States Census Bureau, 27 Dec. 2018, www.census.gov/programs-surveys/decennial-census/about/rdo/program-management.html.
NOTE: The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the author only. It is not to be assumed that the opinions are those of GALEO or the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund. For the official position on any issue for GALEO, please contact Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director of GALEO at firstname.lastname@example.org.